Friday, May 29, 2009

The Riddle... Prologue to Another Day to Remember A Love Story

While exchanging volleys at that training center's tennis court that breezy Wednesday afternoon, the young couple in their early 20s were like a knight in shining armor and a beautiful enchanting princess. The neon-coloured tennis balls bearing the resemblance of red hearts were like adornments in the air. Earlier that day, the knight and the princess were gliding through one of Bohol's mangrove forest unknowing that destiny awaits over the horizon.

The merry month of May is said to cause the sinking to a few inches of this paradise-island. There is not a single day in the island that doesn't have a scene of festivities and merry-making. And the local inhabitants, wherever they are dispersed - domestic or global will constantly go home during this traditionally festive season.

That particular month, the island could have submerged some few millimeters more as a group of around 20 extension specialists of the Asian Development Bank - Aquaculture Development Project had a month training at the BFAR-FAO-UNDP Brackishwater Aquaculture Training Center in Calape, Bohol. Majority of the trainees were fresh graduates of the University of the Philippines College of Fisheries in Diliman who may be well-heeled and abounding in aquaculture theories and principles but may be deficient in the practical and sensible way of executing the knowledge from the academe. (This is probably one of the reasons why the UP System moved the College of Fisheries to UPV in Miag-ao since it is in the region where the seat of aquaculture in South East Asia is located.)

Humidity was fair that morning but you will see the young man profusedly sweating as he was cutting with a spade (tagad) the pond bottom soil into blocks (tableya) to make a dike of the pond. She was dressed like a princess of a fishing village with a wide brimmed hat as her crown standing by at the wooden slab waiting to carry the soil block like a scepter that would be passed to the rest of the relay team where it is stockpiled with force to the boundary line marked with a rope. Soil blocks upon soil blocks were piled amidst giggles and laughter and soon the minimum requirement for the trainees to accomplish was realized.

The 'dike workers' walked merrily from the mangrove forest through the foot path back to their digs to have their de rigueur shower.

Seemed like in a flash that the fragrance of sweet scented-people gathered at the lobby did not show any trace of the mud they were earlier draped that morning. The young lady looked pretty and striking in her summer apparel while the young man bragged his biceps and pectoralis formed after the morning exercise made prominent with his tight gray sleeveless shirt.

She bashfully pulled out something from her pocket and gave it to him. It was a girlish folding of a perfumed pink stationary and in it were carefully and painstakingly written words: "I come before 50 Romans. Nothing comes before 5. Invert 3 and add you!!!" He may be a bright young man and may be good in Math but it took him some few minutes instead of just few seconds to figure out what the riddle was all about. The moment he got the answer, a loud 'yeeessss!' reverberated at the lobby and his fatigued-face was transformed to a wide happy grin exuding high spirits and excitement.

That was 24 years ago today and the young man to this day admits that he really never immediately solved the riddle through his mind but knew that it was 'I LOVE YOU!!! from the prompting of his heart.

It's not all a bed of roses, chocolatey, sweet tweetums, and icing-on-the cake kind of relationship for the past 24 years for this couple but they have managed to survive and make that riddle even stronger than it ever was. They have included a third party in their relationship whom they consider the third cord that binds them even stronger together - the Great I Am!

Read more of the couple's story: Another Day to Remember A Love Story


24 years have passed today and they are no longer together in the aquaculture industry.
She has given up her childhood dream of becoming a medical doctor but instead
pursued the young man's dream of becoming a lawyer. She is now a trial court judge.
Meanwhile, the young man is still with the aquaculture industry but is no longer
cutting soil blocks and making pond dikes. He is an OFW managing the
Harvest & Logistics Support Service Department of the
world's biggest aquaculture project.


Someone called me and said that he still can't figure out the riddle.
So for those who have a hard time figuring this out, here's how it is solved:

I come before 50 Romans. I L (L is Roman numeral for 50).
Nothing comes before 5: 0V (nothing means zero '0' and V is Roman numeral 5)
Invert 3: E (3 when inverted will look like E)
and add you!!! : you!!!
I L0VE you!!!


  1. hi bong & chris, i missed this part ha? sa bohol pa gle amo na to kamo? i can only remember the digging of the mud and the piling ... inosente pa ko guro that time, did not know how many love teams were formed eh?

    that's the best love triangle of all time ... both of you at the base and the Almighty One at the top.

  2. I, really, can't understand why it has to be stated through a riddle...

    One thing is certain, however. The 3 magical words may not be easily expressed in words but they are always comfortably felt within the heart! o",)

    [Ang galing! Napaka-vivid ng pagkakwento!]

  3. nice post NJ...
    ang sweet sweet naman..nilalanggam na blog mo tol!

  4. @Carnation: Hi Jigsz... Hahaha. You didn't know huh! Indeed, you were so innocent and naive during those times. Why, didn't you notice the sparkles in our eyes then?
    You're definitely right! That's the only love triangle that will last forever!

    @RJ: Why through a riddle? 'Lam mo namang shy and conservative type kami during our time and those 3 words were so precious that it should only be said to the right person... hehehe. nowadays, you can say i love you to anyone else... pati pagkain at mga gamit eh sabihing love na rin natin... yes, true love is comfortably felt in the heart and not just through loose words...

    @Mokong: Look who's talking! Yung blog mo rin nama'y nilalanggam na sa daming sweet snapshots niyo ni Babba... hehehe. Mainam nang maraming asukal kesa buhanging galing sa sandstorm...ahahaha!

  5. can't help but go kilig..=P

    cheers to a happy marriage..and thanks for droppin at my site...=)

  6. A very sweet riddle that leads to a strong union. We could share this love story to Dr. Love or Joe D' Mango's Love Notes... siguradong maraming mai-inspire at maraming mai-inlove.

  7. 24 LONG YEARS, WHEW! marami p akong kakainin na bigas, congrats for having a wonderful family. Successful and strong family! I admire you both with your wife. Tell the Regional Judge the PEBA guys are humbled and proud to have NJ their Pres.

  8. such a fairytale...

    ...and they live happily everafter...

  9. nakakakilig..
    wala akong ibang masabi.. ahihihihi

  10. hello from bàvàrià germàny, silip silip làng munà, bye

  11. namanhga ako dun sa 50 romans! ANG GALING TALAGA. :)

  12. Congratulations, NJ.

    24 years! And the story seemed like it just happened yesterday.

    I wonder how's the biceps and pectoralis of that young man after 24 years...well formed p b?

    (Nalaman ko kaagad na I love you sya pero nahirapan din akong i-solve ung riddle kung paano sya naging I love you. Salamat sa paliwanag sa huli).

  13. i am puzzled and challenged by the riddler. kakaiba at unique ang atake mo sir NJ - naku kailangang idigest talaga sya.

    at the end, this inspired us, i mean the wisdom of LOVE - txs for sharing ur piece, the two of u.

  14. Okay yun ah. Matagal ko ring inisip (about 1 min) bago ko nakuha ang ibig sabihin. : )

  15. @ConfessionNook: Hahaha... kilig ba? I can't help but that's our ka cornihan nung araw. Anyhow, my wife's busy checking your blogs for more recipes to cook...hehehe.

    @Pope: I hope all riddles and love stories will be like a fairy tale... Yes, it can be if both lovers are willing to sacrifice for it... so they shall live happily ever after.

    @Kenji: 24 years and more...inshallah. thanks for the appreciate. nakakataba ng puso. with where you are right now, you'll see your 24 years with more excitement and success. Cheers!

    @Badong: Kilig ba? Hahaha. bata ka pa... darating ka rin dyan at i-blog mo rin ha. hehehe.

    @Azel: Kelan natin simulan ang kwento mo? mag-aabang kami sa fairy tale version mo... ang setting - Dubai! Malapit na bang lumabas? Bakit nga pala nandyan ka? hehehe!

  16. @Yanah: hahaha... ba't mo dinelete ang unang post mo? kilig na kilig ka ano? hwag kang mainggit dahil darating din ang araw na kikiligin ka ring muli... sana malapit na ano?

    @Francesca: guten tag... yan lang naiwan sa German 11 ko... nakalimutan ko na Frau Francesca..salamat sa silip-silip mo. Auf weidessen... ehe (mali mali na ata)

    @Rob: Parang mga sundalong Romano ano? Was it Romans or 'romance' you were thinking about? hahaha.

  17. @Nebz: We always want love stories to be as fresh as when it happened... and to have the biceps and pectoralis as they were... Hahaha... you really got me there. When i was writing my blog, that thot also crossed my mind. Sad to say, it's gone and it went downside to the belly area... no longer the muscles it used to be but 'baby fats'...eeew! You'll see it when we'll have the Saudi eB... Hehehe. Hwag kang tumawa ha.

    @ArabianJosh: I know what you're saying. Nahirapan rin talaga ako that time. Talaga sigurong nagkaganoon para may maiblog ako kapagka May 29... hehehe. thanks for being inspired by it! :-)

    @ParengVox: Welcome back from vacation! Dami mong projects nagawa ah. Oo nga, kahit nahirapan tayong magsolve ng riddle napakaganda namang pakinggan ang sagot, di ba?

  18. Congrats at 24 years na pala kayo! Ang galing naman and still going strong! First time kong mabasa yun riddle na yan hehehe, ganun pala ang explanation. Yun asawa ko kasi masyadong vocal,I love you kaagad ang hirit hehehe.

  19. @Sardonyx: Maganda yung may suspense ng kaunti... hehehe. Anyway, feature mo na rin yung love story nyo... at least ibang version naman... setting ba Japan?

  20. Wow... nice Love story u and ur wife have. regarding my situation? Thanks for the cheer up! Yup I agree... we can choose to be happy and that's my principle actually.. But I dunno. Im getting damn bored here and It seems that I cant apply that principle lately...

    Hopefully.. I'll be back on my feet soon! Thanks it really help alot.

  21. that's soooo sweet! :)

    so you play tennis? i wish i could play that sport sometime. i love watching tennis matches on TV. hehe!

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